Between Covid-19 and Brexit, the UK faces a shortage of chickens

We don’t chuckle in the ranks. The UK is facing a shortage of its favorite meat: chicken. The case began to spread on August 12 when the American fast-food chain KFC, famous for its fried chicken, announced that certain dishes were likely to be missing. “There have been disruptions in recent weeks”, she explained on Twitter. The chain didn’t spell out exactly what the problem was, just citing packaging that might be different or fewer choices on the menu.

The case gained momentum on Tuesday August 17. This time, the South African chain Nando’s, famous for its roast chicken Peri-Peri – a spicy sauce – was forced to close about 50 restaurants, out of a total of more than four hundred. All over the country, she could no longer supply herself with poultry.

“Labor shortage”

Chicken farmers have nothing to do with it. In contrast, the entire UK food supply chain is severely disrupted at the moment. Nando’s evokes in particular “The shortage of manpower and the isolation caused by the Covid”.

With nearly 30,000 infections per day, the pandemic remains at a high level in the United Kingdom, and many contact cases are ordered to isolate themselves. All summer, supermarkets, restaurants or factories have had great difficulty managing their workforce in this context. However, since Monday, vaccinated people who are contact cases no longer need to self-isolate, which should greatly solve the problem.

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But Brexit complicates matters. Many Europeans, especially from Eastern European countries, work in food factories. At the start of the pandemic, many of them returned to their country of origin to live in confinement. Estimates vary, but between 500,000 and 1.3 million migrants have left the UK. How many have returned? No one knows.

The situation is complicated by the entry into force of Brexit on 1is January: to take a job across the Channel, a European now needs a work permit (unless he has obtained a permanent resident status upstream). According to the British Poultry Association, 16% of jobs in the sector are currently unfilled. These are generally too poorly paid to qualify for a work visa under the new immigration system.

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